The International Olympic Committee -- long a swirling cesspool of corruption, censorship, and reputation-laundering for repressive regimes -- has attained a new low, issuing guidance to athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that no political protests will be tolerated, specifically banning kneeling or raising fists.
Protests by Olympians -- particularly Black Americans -- have made political history, from John Carlos and Tommie Smith's raised fists at the 1968 Mexico City Games (with Peter Norman standing in solidarity) to Jesse Owens' thwarting of Hitler's propaganda dreams for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Last year, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee censured and suspended Race Imboden and Gwen Berry for protesting racial injustice during the Pan Am games, warning that any athletes that followed in their footsteps in the future would face worse punishments.
“So the IOC is doubling down on the disgraceful treatment of athletes in 1968?” askedSherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Ifill was referring to the iconic moment at the Mexico City Olympics when black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, as they were awarded their gold and bronze medals, respectively, wore black gloves, took off their shoes, and held their fists high to protest poverty and racism. The IOC responded by expelling Smith and Carlos. The IOC announced the guidelines for Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter Thursday. Among the specific actions (pdf) now banned are:
* Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands
* Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling
* Refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.
‘Cowardice’: Olympics Committee Slammed for New Guidelines Barring Athletes From Kneeling, Raising Fists [Jerri-Lynn Scofield/Naked Capitalism]